By Michela Arlia
You got your first glimpse of this new column, “Before the Presses,” two weeks ago when my colleague Gabriela Flores, The Vanguard’s editor-in-chief, argued that Queens needs more TLC when it comes to food and other hidden gems.
I now am here to tell you why, while Queens is enticing, we have better here in BK, at least from the standpoint of a born-and-bred Southern Brooklynite.
As the two of us are rounding out our final weeks on this beautiful campus, being the sleep-deprived leaders of this publication you are reading at this very minute, we decided to let loose and give you real, unstructured thoughts. This led to the birth of “Before the Presses.” We’ll find a topic, talk from the point of view of our native boroughs, and hopefully, you’ll get a kick out of it. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Now, I will preface by saying the one thing I will wholeheartedly agree with my partner on: Queens is nothing like Staten Island (again, no shade SI). But, we are here to talk about the borough native to our charming campus.
I have lived in Brooklyn all my life (a whopping (almost) 22 years). Everything I learned has come from one neighborhood or another on this 71-square-mile piece of land. And by everything, I mean how to eat, and eat well.
Brooklyn has the best pizza west of Italy, hands down. If you disagree, please find me. I crave discussions like these to inform you of all the reasons why you are wrong. You can’t really go wrong with any kind of slice, especially in my neighboring ‘hood of Bensonhurst – sorry Dani’s House of Pizza. There is no right place to begin, but I’ll start with my favorite, Davinci Pizzeria. They make a perfect square slice, plus they’ve been around forever, so how bad could it be? If you are looking for pizza with a twist, try Krispy Pizzeria’s pestoroni, a square pie with pesto sauce and mozzarella topped with pepperoni. It’s got a kick, but the sweetness of the pesto balances out so well that you barely even notice. Paired with the most evenly coated garlic knots you’ll ever try, it’s worth the trip.
Growing up down the block from the pizza of all pizzas, L&B Spumoni Gardens, I surprisingly never had it as much as I should have. I will admit it wasn’t until about two summers ago that I came around to actually eating the famous square slice, but that was only for childhood picky-eater-syndrome reasons. Come down in the midst of summer, and you can grab pints of their famous spumoni ice cream, a rich and creamy mix of chocolate, pistacchio, and cremolata. It’s worth it.
It wasn’t until I entered high school that I learned most people around here swear by only one lettered restaurant, never both: L&B or RnR.
Roll n Roaster, a burger joint in Sheepshead Bay that specializes in cheese fries and roast beef sandwiches, was the place to hit up after all school events. Since the 70s, its name pays homage to its “Roaster” thin-sliced roast beef sandwiches smothered in cheese sauce sandwiched between two pieces of gravy-soaked bread, and the fact that waitresses used to roller skate orders to customers. Pair anything here with a vanilla shake, and you’re set.
After all that, I’m sure you’re hungry, so let’s switch gears. Aside from the multiple spices you can find within restaurants, Brooklyn is home to much of the city’s history. As the world’s first commuter suburb, Brooklyn was known as a shoreline getaway for New Yorkers in the 19th century. Yes, Brooklyn was a beach vacation spot; you can laugh now. Still today, Coney Island offers a great mix of sand, surf, and all things entertainment during the summers. Ride the infamous Cyclone (at your own risk), or hop onto the Wonder Wheel for great views and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Brooklyn is also home to many great actors, writers, directors, and artists, and the birthplace of the mighty Captain America. There’s too many to encapsulate in this piece, however. I do have a word limit, you know.
With over 200 languages spoken here, and over one-third of our population born in another country, we rank pretty high in diversity among cultures, almost up there with Queens (too much?).
They say 1 in 7 people connect back to Brooklyn, or something like that. Sincerest apologies to the many neighborhoods not mentioned here; maybe I’ll delve into them in a future piece. Be sure to check out places like Brooklyn Heights for great city views or the Central Park of the south, Prospect Park, home to the always inquisitive Brooklyn Museum and the great outdoors of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.
Q.E.D. Brooklyn. Until next time.